Retinitis pigmentosa is a genetic eye disease that causes gradual deterioration of the eye’s photoreceptor cells, the light-sensitive cells of the retina. The disease currently affects about 100,000 Americans and until recently, these individuals had very little hope for the future. With no known treatments, those 100,000 Americans were left to just watch their vision slowly degrade.
That was then and this is now!
The new Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, popularly referred to as the bionic eye, is a sight-enhancing implant designed to help patients with retinitis pigmentosa regain some sense of vision.
“Patients with retinitis pigmentosa in the United States for the first time ever will [now] have a treatment option,” said Dr. Robert Greenberg, president and CEO of Second Sight Medical Products Inc., the maker of the bionic eye.
The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System was recently issued a limited “humanitarian use device” approval by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that the bionic eye can be used only for fewer than 4,000 patients (25 years and older) per year.
“It’s a start, it’s a beginning,” said Dr. Mark Fromer, an ophthalmologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System utilizes a tiny video camera attached to eyeglasses that transmits images to a sheet of electrode sensors that have been sewn into the patient’s eye. These signals are then transmitted to the brain via the optic nerve.
“For many of the approximately 1,300 individuals who will develop the disease this year, this technology may change their lives,” said Dr. William Maisel, deputy director for science and chief scientist at FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “It’s the difference between night and day.”
“It’s going to be exciting for people who get this device who are currently just seeing light or dark, [they] will see shapes and that will be life-altering for them,” added Fromer.
To learn more about the Retinitis Pigmentosa, please contact board certified ophthalmologist Dr. Samuel Boles, consultative optometrists Dr. Nathan Frank and Dr. Corinne Casey, and the eye care specialists at Anne Arundel Eye Center by calling 410-224-2010 or click here to visit AnneArundelEyeCenter.com. Staffed by caring and knowledgeable professionals, our state-of-the-art treatment center is dedicated to making the best eye care accessible to everyone.
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